Redhead Baby Mama | Atlanta Mom Blogger

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

WW: Planes Playtime (Fire & Rescue)

Our whole family got to see Planes: Fire and Rescue this weekend (I skipped the Atlanta premiere in order to see it with both of my guys) and Red was engaged from the opening credits. When we got home, Red pulled out all the planes he had as well as the fire engine from the Cars movie (gotta use what you have!).  After hours and hours of reenacting Dusty's scenes, he asked to back to the theatre! I see a purchase in our future!
Red's Point of View for playtime!
Disney Planes Fire and Rescue playtime

Monday, July 21, 2014

10 Ways to Get Ready for the First Day of School

I can hardly believe it's Back to School time... I keep hearing on the radio and reading on some blogs that, "Summer is in Full Swing," and it's totally not.  Here in the south, we let out of school in May and are headed back the first or second week of August, so the last dog days of summer are upon us.  Red is starting officially starting preschool this year, which means a new routine and lots of preparation for everyone.  If you're getting ready for school too, here are 10 easy ways (everything from picture signs to backpack choices) to help you and your school age child prepare for the new school year!

1. Print out your Back To School sign: If you've been trolling on pinterest this time of year, you're bound to come across a bunch of cute pre-schoolers modeling perfect outfits and holding little "First year of _____" signs. I've collected a few on my Back to School pinterest board.  These signs are pretty cute, and an easy way for moms of future graduates to get all of their photos in order 20 years from now.  I caved to the trend and made one for Red in Picmonkey with a cute chalkboard background and fun fonts...
First Day of Pre-School sign
2. Take your "First Day" photos BEFORE the first day:  Avoid the rush. No one wants to get up any earlier for school for a fashion shoot.  Instead of rushing on your first morning, take advantage of the extra time the weekend before school actually starts and get your child dressed in their school clothes.  Grab his backpack (empty is fine) and if you like, your "First Day" sign.  Snap some shots in the front yard casually and have fun!

3. Check out the BTS Sales and Grab a New Backpack: Make sure to look for wide, padded straps for little shoulders.  Make use of all compartments, loading the heaviest items towards the child's back. If you think that all that gear will weigh your kids down, check with your school for approval of a rolling backpacks.  Consider any stairs or weather that could make using one harder.  Finally, adjust the bag to make sure it rides high and is not too heavy. The BEST part of a new backpack is that you can use it as a time capsule to store your favorite projects, report cards and papers from this school year.  It's all together!
4. Try out some lunches: Seriously... try out some of your lunchbox menus (*this is my eMeals affiliate if you feel so inclined) at home! See what your child likes and what they might not love.  Urge them to taste new foods, and come up with some creative presentations (I'm not talking Martha Stewart style; I'm talking mini bento boxes, cookie cutters for sandwiches and Ants on a Log...).  Keep it simple, but switch it up and have a dry run at your house! (photo from eMeals)
5. Label all Clothing: If your child is in daycare or preschool, clothes will be changed and coats will be left.  Get a leg up by sewing or ironing in labels to all your important pieces. Don't forget hats, gloves and even swim goggles if your student has swim class.  Beautiful, personalized labels can be commissioned on Etsy for really cheap!

6. Scout your Bus Stop: Make sure your child knows exactly where the bus stop is and what time the bus comes.  If you're walking your grade schooler to the bus stop, talk about how to get ready in the morning and what they need to remember.  If there is an abundance of school age kids in your neighborhood, try to find a bus stop buddy before the first week so they feel comfortable.
7. Attend the Meet and Greet: Many schools, preschools and Moms Morning Out programs will have a Meet and Greet day, where students and parents are welcome to the classroom for a few hours to meet the teacher, explore the classroom and have fun with fellow students.  Be sure to attend this important event to help your child find their classroom, meet the teacher and get other important information about his school.  

8. Find a Homework Spot: If you don't already have one, designating a quiet, distraction free homework spot is a GREAT asset for a school age child.  Make homework rules, like No TV or playtime until all homework is completed.  Have adequate supplies at the homework station so your child doesn't wander around looking for them and become distracted.  Above all, be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but remember... never do the homework for them! (Photo from Shanty 2 Chic)
9. Practice Going to Bed Early: AND getting up for breakfast.  In the weeks before school, start setting your alarm clock.  Feel free to taper into bedtime as well as wake up times to assure that the first day of school doesn't leave anyone dragging their feet or feeling less than ready.  Grab hearty breakfasts and multivitamins to fuel little brains until lunchtime. No one wants to feel hungry in the middle of show and tell!

10. Make the First Day Easier by Talking About It:  Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school.  Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun!  If it's not your child's first year in school, refresh his memory about previous years, when he may have returned home very happy and excited because he had a good time.

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    The Time Red was in a Police Car

    Right on the heels of Cow Appreciation Day, I drug our family back out to Chick-fil-A for something our branch calls Family Night. Fun, family friendly activities or themes are held every Thursday for a few hours over the summer. This past week, it was Safety Night with our local county heroes of Fire and Police. We had a quick meal with coupons I had saved up, some Red-requested slide time on the playground, and then the big fun arrived. The Chick-fil-A cow came out to greet Red, and immediately afterwards, the big rig firetruck pulled into the parking lot.
    Red was allowed to "touch a truck, please" when he asked, and even sat in the front seat, turning the wheel and waving to everyone.  I think Hubs got more pleasure out of watching Red's face and reactions than anything else.  
     The firemen and firetruck were from our local station, and I found out that a colleague's husband works with them (I swear, the world is smaller every day...).  We made sure to thank these brave guys for keeping our town safe day after day (and for letting Red have a turn in the fire truck!).
     Next up, a local policeman from our county had his police cruiser on display, lights ablaze and front door open for "tours".  Red climbed in, and was directed to a panel of buttons that operated all the sirens.  He was flabbergasted when he himself created the sounds, and was so desperate to stay in the car we nearly had to peel him from the front seat!  
     We made sure to get a "selfie" before we left (because you have no nowadays, right?!). Everyone was all smiles, so we call that a cheap date and a super fun night! Did your family experience anything new this weekend?

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

    Favorites for Baby's First Month (Registry List)

    One of my biggest questions when I was pregnant was, "What should I register for?"  I went around to my friends that already had children, grilling them on the top 5 favorites things they used the most.  After hearing that they had to say, compiling my favorite things for Red, and taking at look at the baby market's most popular items, I was able to created this list, (one month listed at a time) of my personal favorites for each month of baby's life.  The master list can be found right here!

    1. Fisher-Price SpaceSaver Swing - This super portable swing is one of the most sanity saving items you'll have during the first few months. It can calm a baby instantly, and just  may buy you a few minutes to eat or shower.  A few speeds, a vibrating feature, and a stationary seat option make this small moveable swing the BEST thing ever. EVER. Ours is actually out on perma-loan to Nugget and his family while he grows up! 

    2. Lanolin for Breastfeeding Mothers - Ya'll.  Take a tube of this to the hospital. If you're going to breastfeed your little one, your nips are in for a world of hurt. After your baby learns to latch, your nipples will start to toughen up, but the lanolin will ease the discomfort. Use it liberally, and gently wipe off before each nursing session! 

    3. BooginHead PaciGrip -  One of the worst things about babies? They have no idea how much you paid for all their gear. They will toss their pacifier into the cereal aisle at Publix and all your hard earned cash will be hidden in the frosted flakes until the Rapture comes. This specific pacigrip is the only readily available one that will hold every single kind of pacifier. It's universal.  And you can wash it. So there's that.

    4. Summer Infant Bath Sponge - Throw out the baby bath with the bathwater. Seriously. Those large plastic hunks get all the love and people have almost forgotten about these bath sponges. Lay a newborn on top of it for a sponge bath, or run 1-2" of water in the bath and lay baby down on it in the tub. You can wash, they can kick, and your space is saved. Sit it upright to drain and you're in the clear. It also costs less than $8, whereas those bulky bathtubs are pricey! 

    5. HoMedics Sound Machine - Another serious sanity saver.  This particular model features a white noise button, which is really what you want. If you run this on a low level in the nursery, (or, if you're a cosleeper, your room), you'll set the tone (see what I did there... pun intended) for sleep.  This machine is so small and compact it can travel to help you set up a mobile nursery and establish a good sleep pattern no matter if you're napping at home or vacationing in a hotel. Guaranteed to work - 3 babies I've helped train as proof.

    6.  MAM 2 Pack Pacifier - I like the MAM Air pacifiers A LOT. There's no top or bottom to them, they are easy to clean, and the lovely air holes in the shield allow both air and moisture to pass. This means an easier time teething and less rashes on the face.  They come in several sizes according to the age of your baby, so choose accordingly. Be aware that a 6 month old baby might not be willing to accept a bigger pacifier just like that, so use your own judgement. Each paci works great with the pacigrip.

    7. Boppy Pillow - I don't know a nursing mother that doesn't have one of these. You can buy them at almost any baby store, but I got mine on consignment for 1/3 of the price, bought a new organic cover and had the whole thing cleaned.  Not only will this help support baby during breastfeeding and bottle feeding, it's also a great newborn/infant baby seat for play and entertaining. When baby needs tummy time, support them under the arms and chest with the boppy to help them gain strength. 

    8. Medela Breast Shells - Hands down, a big boobie saver. Another must have for a nursing mother, these shells get placed over your nipples, inside your nursing bra.  Don't worry, they aren't as big as they look. Your nipples go through the large openings and any leaking milk is completely conserved.  The air holes at the top provide great circulation.  When my milk came in, I was actually napping, and woke to find these puppies full.  The shells (combined with lanolin above) also provide instant, must-have relief for sore nipples.

    9. aden + anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets - Blankies GALORE. We have 8 (2 packs) of these, and they proved to be such favorites, that Red adopted them as his "blankies".  These large, thin, soft blankets provide a comfortable, snug swaddle that even the most wiggly baby can't get out of.  They wash so well that they still look new, and are the softest things you will ever touch.  Except your baby's booty, of course. Not that you go around touching butts, but you totally could - you're the Mom. 

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

    How to Cut Flank or Skirt Steak

    I like to think that I'm learning to be a good cook.  I'll never be perfect, and I can use some pointers from time to time.  That being the case, I used to shy away from serving flank or skirt steak because I thought it was too tough.  I didn't know how to prepare this super cheap, yummy cut of beef, but I learned! Here are a few tips on how to cut your flank and skirt steaks so they're super tender.  

    First, you need to marinate the cut, even if it's just for 30 minutes.  A tenderizing mixture of soy, garlic combined with cutting across the grain (see photo below) means you'll have a delectable dinner your family will love! For more recipes like this, you can check out eMeals.  I'm an affiliate, so if you want to use one of my links to purchase a plan (we use the Clean Eating Meal Plan) I'll get a few cents.  Next, try your hand at the recipe below featuring Parmesan Broccoli Twice Baked Potatoes to set off your flank steak into the perfect meal!
    Learn how to cut flank steak or skirt steak. Cut against the grain and it's tasty!
    Now that you're a pro with cutting Flank Steak, try this AWESOME recipe from eMeals for Marinated Flank Steak and Parmesan/Broccoli Twice Baked Potatoes.  From start to finish it's 90 minutes, but there's some serious down time while your potatoes bake.  My family was impressed, and that made me feel SO good!
    Marinated Flank Steak and 
    Parmesan Broccoli Twice Baked Potatoes
    (this recipe serves 2 people, easily doubles or triples!)
    Marinated Flank Steak:
    1⁄2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    2 tablespoons honey
    1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    3⁄4 lb flank steak
    1⁄4 teaspoon salt, 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

    Twice Baked Potatoes: 
    1 large baking potato
    1⁄2 cup chopped fresh broccoli
    1⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
    1 tablespoon butter
    1⁄4 teaspoon salt, 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pierce potatoes several times with a fork, rub potatoes lightly with EVOO and place in oven for 60 minutes. 

    2. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, honey, and crushed red pepper in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; add steak.  Seal bag, and marinate 1 hour as the potatoes bake.

    3. Meanwhile, bring 1⁄2 cup water and broccoli to a boil in a saucepan; steam 4 minutes or until tender. Drain. Chop finely and set aside. 

    4.  Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper; grill 7 to 8 minutes per side or to desired degree of doneness. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing (as the finished potato shells bake).

    5.  When potatoes are done, remove from oven (HOT!!) and cut potato in half lengthwise.  Scoop potato pulp from halves into a bowl, leaving 1⁄4-inch shell. Stir together potato pulp, broccoli, cheese, sour cream, butter, salt, and pepper; spoon into potato shells. Place on an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet; bake 10 minutes or until browned.

    Serve and Enjoy!  Be sure to let me know if you try the Clean Eating meals. We love how eMeals makes dinner easy to plan, shop for and cook! Use promo code SCHOOL for 20% off your meal plan!
    eMeals Meal Plans

    Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    WW: I have the BEST neighbor, ever.

    I have the best neighbor, ever. After seeing on the share a coke website that my name wasn't available, look what she found at the store!  That's pretty darn close, and was the sweetest surprise!  :) Thank you, Helen!!
    Share a Coke with Linds (Lindsey) 
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